Saturday, February 27, 2016

Boondi Thair Pachadi - Yogurt Based Salad With Fried Droplets Of Batter


Summer is the time when our appetite goes down especially for spicy curries. Thair Pachadis or yogurt based cold salads are ideal side dishes for hot days. Thair Pachadi not only soothes the parched tongue but also cools down the entire digestive system. Adding Boondi (fried droplets of batter) to the Pachadi makes it more delicious and nutritious.
Though store bought Boondies will serve the purpose, home made Boondies are best. Boondies can be  prepared in bulk and stored in airtight containers so that they can be utilized whenever required.
Bengal gram flour/ Besan   - 2 cups
Rice flour - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Chilly powder - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Oil for frying 
1.Thoroughly  mix all the ingredients together adding one spoon of hot oil.
2. Add water little by little and make a smooth and thick batter similar to dosa batter. 
3. Heat oil in a kadai.
4. Hold a large perforated ladle (known as jarini in Tamil), about 4 to 5 inches above the hot oil.
5. Pour one ladle of batter on the perforated  jarini and gently tap the rim using a spoon so that the batter falls in small droplets (boondies) into the hot oil.

6. The boondis will rise to the top immediately. Reduce flame and fry them till they stop sizzling and turn into a golden brown colour.

7. Remove the cooked boondies using another perforated ladle and drain them on a paper towel.
8. Repeat till all the batter is made into boondies.

Cool and store the boondies in a clean dry box .
Boondies - 1 cup
Finely chopped red tomatoes - 1 cup
Grated carrot - 1/2 cup
Thick curd/yogurt (Chilled) - 2 cups
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Chopped Coriander - for garnishing
Ghee - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
1. Soak boondi in warm water till the other ingredients get ready.
2. Combine chopped tomatoes, grated carrot, coriander leaves and salt with yogurt.
3. Squeeze out the now softened boondies and add to the yogurt mixture.
4. Combine well adding more yogurt if required.

5. Splutter mustard seeds and cumin seeds in hot ghee and garnish the Boondi Thair Pachadi.
 Boondi Thair Pachadi is a good side dish for all varieties of rice and  rotis.  A bowl of Boondi Thair Pachadi is a wholesome snack for a hot and sultry afternoon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Thavalai Dosai - A Pan Cake Cooked In Thavalai/Heavy Vessel

Instant foods, take away foods and a taste for world foods have pushed  home made traditional dishes virtually to the back seat in modern days.The traditional Thavalai Dosai is one among the list of dishes which is not prepared very often. The present generation of youngsters crack jokes by punning  the name 'Thavalai' and refer to the dish as Frog Dosai! Thavalai is the name of a traditional wide mouthed heavy vessel made of brass or bronze which was used in large scale cooking in olden days. The LAI in Thavalai Dosai is pronounced similar to the English word 'lie' meaning recline. Unfortunately there is no  phonetic sound in English to pronounce the 'lai' in Thavalai which means Frog in Tamil thus giving rise to wisecracks!
Now coming to the recipe of the delicious and nutritious Thavalai Dosai
Rice - 1 cup
Green gram dal/ split Moong dal - 1/3 cup
Split Pigeon peas/Tur dal - 1/3 cup
Bengal gram dal/Chana dal - 1/3 cup
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Black gram dal/Urad dal - 1/2 cup
Salt - 1 1/2 tsp
Oil - for roasting and seasoning
1.Wash and drain rice and spread it on a kitchen towel to dry.
2. Wash and soak Urad dal for an hour.
3. Pulse Tur dal, Chana dal and Moong dal together in a mixer till you get a coarse powder.It should resemble fine sand. Add cumin seeds in the final round so that they get crushed.
4. Pulse the drained and dried rice similarly into a coarse powder using the mixer.
5. Grind the soaked Urad dal into a smooth and fluffy batter adding water.
6.Thoroughly mix the coarsely powdered lentils and rice with the Urad dal batter adding salt.
Allow the batter to sit for six hours. 
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Broken red chillies - 4
Finely chopped green chillies - 4
Finely chopped fresh ginger - 1 tbsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp 
Curry leaves - chopped
Coriander leaves - chopped
Fresh coconut gratings - 4 tbsps
1. Heat oil and add mustard seeds when you are ready to prepare the dosais.
2.When the mustard seeds splutter add the broken red chillies followed by green chilies, ginger and asafoetida.
3. Pour the seasoning into the batter.
4. Add chopped curry leaves, coriander leaves and the coconut gratings to the batter and mix well.
5.The dry lentil powder will absorb lot of water while soaking. Hence the batter will become very thick. Add enough water and mix well to get a dosa batter consistency.
1. Grease a heavy bottomed pan or a tava using sesame oil since tavalais are scarcely used in  modern kitchensCut an onion into half and use the cut side to rub oil thoroughly on the surface of the pan.
2. Heat the greased pan and pour one ladle of the Thavalai Dosai batter in the center. Gently lift up the pan and swirl it so that the batter spreads out into a round dosai. Or you can gently spread it using the bottom of a ladle.
3. Dribble sesame oil liberally around the dosai and cover the pan with a lid.

4.Cook the Thavalai Dosai on medium flame for two or three minutes.
5. Remove lid and check if the top is cooked.
6. Gently loosen the golden edge using a spatula and remove the Thavlai Dosai on to a plate. The top of the flavoursome Thavali Dosai will be steam cooked and soft, while the bottom will be crisp and crunchy.
Grease the pan/ tava before making the next Thavalai Dosai.

Enjoy the flavoursome  THAVALAI DOSAI with chutney and sambar.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Puliarai Keerai Chutney - Creeping Wood Sorrel Chutney/ Relish

Creeping Wood Sorrel (Indian Sorrel) Relish
Herbs rich in nutritional and medicinal properties flourished in home gardens long time ago. Some were made into chutneys, some other keerais were cooked along with lentils. Some were used in the making of hair oil and bath powders at home. Be it cough, cold, digestive upsets, skin rashes, bumps, swellings, open wounds or any other malady  there was always a herb in the garden which came in handy to alleviate the symptom. All these wonderful herbs / weeds are vanishing gradually from our urban spaces, thanks to the vertical growth of residential spaces. Useful medicinal weeds do not have a place in the modern landscapes where the focus is mostly on green lawns and  ornamental plants. On the other hand it is heartening to know that many youngsters have taken to growing herbs organically in pots.Gardens of medicinal plants (Moolikai Vanams) have sprung up in many urban areas to conserve the treasure of endemic plants and  herbs. An interest to learn about grandma's medicine using native herbs is also gradually catching up.
Various medicinal properties and health benefits are attributed to the garden weed called  Puliarai Keerai /Huli Soppu. Here is a recipe for a lip smacking chutney using Puliarai Keerai (Huli Soppu in Kannada).


Puliyrai Keerai/Huli Soppu - 2 cups
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Black gram dal - 2 tbsps 
Red chillies - 6 or more to balance the sourness of the keerai.
Salt -  1 tsp 
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Gingelly oil - 1 tsp
1. Wash the Puliarai Keerai/Huli Soppu thoroughly and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
3. When the mustard seeds crackle add the split black gram dal and roast till the colour changes to golden brown.
4. Add the red chillies and asafoetida and roast till chillies turn crisp.
5. Stir in the Puliarai Keerai/Huli Soppu into the seasoning and immediately switch off flame.
6. Allow to cool and grind all the ingredients together with salt into a slightly coarse chutney adding little water.

A small piece of jaggery can be added while grinding to tone down the very sour taste of Puliarai Keerai / Huli Soppu.
Relish  PULIARAI KEERAI CHUTNEY  with hot rice and a dollop of ghee.